By: Lainey Benson
In today’s world of conservation, innovative ideas are beginning to take a larger precedent rather than simple preservation. Preserving vast ecosystems like those found in our planet’s rainforests will forever be held near and dear to all environmentalists’ hearts. However, in today’s globalized and fast-paced world, the simplistic act of preservation is beginning to unfortunately lag behind and prove to be less effective as it was in the past. Emerging super stars in the field of conservation revolve around environmental regeneration, creative sustainability management plans, alternative sources of energy, and more!
If you are paying close attention to the gossip concerning new ideas for conserving and protecting our rainforests, you may have read upon the idea of “stitching together forests”. If this is new to your ears as it was to mine fairly recently, let me enthusiastically elaborate. As more scientific evidence began to be developed relating the drastic decline of species to large patches of deforestation, ecologists started establishing “wildlife corridors” in order to stave off an extinction crisis. Simply put, a wildlife corridor is synonymous to a hallway one uses to get from one room to the other. The general idea is for the corridors to function as links between our world’s remaining forest lands by planting and growing small corridors of native trees between them. This would allow native birds, mammals and plants to spread between the broken up plots of forested land and become more resilient against extinction threats. A classic case of strength being in numbers, if you will. According to an article published in the New York Times, “In the stretch of Atlantic Forest north of Rio de Janeiro, home to the endangered golden lion tamarin, a bright orange primate, researchers identified 20 areas where corridors could be planted – small forests just six-tenths of a mile wide – to reconnect existing habitats. Doing so, they found, would create more than 500,000 acres of continuous forest and slow the predicted rate of extinctions”¹. This supports an interconnected strong healthy ecosystem while encouraging a flourishing amount of biodiversity.
You might be thinking to yourself, “But why is biodiversity so important and how does it impact me?” Well dear reader, the explanation of why biodiversity is so critical to the health of our planet and consequently you and I, could be an entire other blog in of itself. So in short, the greater the biodiversity, the better an ecosystem functions, the more biological resources are available to aid in health and food, and the more social benefits there are like research, tourism, and enhanced cultural values. Bottom line: one large reason it is important to sustain a thriving rainforest is to sustain the biodiversity, and as I stated before, simple preservation is not as successful as we had hoped. Producing wildlife corridors proves to be an innovative idea to create forested land in order to support the greater ecosystem.
The downside to creating these corridors is the amount of time it will take for the vegetation to grow to a meaningful size. Decades could pass before the corridor’s vegetation significantly begins to blossom well enough for species to feel naturally accustomed to it, and by that time it could be too late for many.
Although there is much work to be done with establishing wildlife corridors and stitching forests back together, with positive and equal collaboration between the local communities and global conservationists, species extinction can be counteracted and a thriving rainforest filled with immense biodiversity can be effectively conserved.
¹ Plumer, Brad. “Stitching Together Forests Can Help Save Species, Study Finds.” The New York Times. August 21, 2017.